Jamaicans in UK Urged to be more Engaged in the Island


The Government’s drive to include overseas Jamaicans in the island’s development process was taken to London last week, with State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Delano Franklyn, calling on UK-based Jamaicans to be more engaged in the island.
Mr. Franklyn, who has responsibility for Jamaicans overseas, noted that there were two kinds of Jamaicans living abroad, the engaged and the disengaged, whose views on the country differed vastly.
The State Minister was speaking on October 3 at the Jamaica National Building Society’s 2003 Investment Forum in London.
Describing Jamaica as a “name brand”, Mr. Franklyn said this was so because of the impact of the island’s music, culture and the work of Jamaican professionals.
“Jamaica today is a name brand country, far different from the country we had 20, 30 or 40 years ago. The realities inside Jamaica have changed. Jamaica is a far different country than what many of you left behind,” he told the Jamaicans.
“The country now operates an open economy, the state is now the facilitator. The state is no longer in control of the economy but the facilitator and has the responsibility to try to ensure that it puts in place the facilities that encourages business,” he added.
Mr. Franklyn said that while there were still many challenges, there had been much improvement, including a fully restructured financial sector; major upgrading in education and infrastructure, such as electricity and telecommunications; while on-going improvements were underway on the island’s road network.
He told the audience that two of the challenges facing the island were its image, and the need for the country to develop a sense of co-operation among all the sectors of the priority areas that must be dealt with in order to develop the country.
“Jamaica will not achieve full social and economic development without the support and involvement of the Jamaican overseas communities. For us to do so, we must develop the mechanism in order to engage the respective communities,” he said.
Senator Franklyn explained that this was the thinking behind the upgrading of the Returning Residents Unit to the Jamaicans Overseas Department, and the reason for the symposium on the Jamaican Diaspora set for later this month in Kingston.
He said this seminar would be a precursor to the conference of overseas Jamaicans, which was recently announced by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson.
The State Minister also called on overseas Jamaicans to become more involved in the political process, so that they could leverage Government policy on Jamaica’s behalf.
Senator Franklyn was also the main speaker at a brunch with Jamaican community leaders, educators, businessmen and professionals at the Jamaican High Commission on October 5.

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